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Communication audit

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A communication audit is a comprehensive evaluation of an organization's ability to send, receive and share information with various audiences within the organization as well as key constituencies outside, such as customers and investors, in the case of publicly traded companies.

Audits are traditionally assigned by the CEO or the public relations/corporate communications department. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is a good source for more information (www.prsa.org). If shareholders are involved, the investor relations department and finance are involved. The National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI)(www.niri.org) provides information on investor auditing.[1][2] The integration of corporate communications and investor relations has advanced in many corporations in the financial industries with advocates suggesting synergies unrealized previously. https://alumni.northeastern.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Power-of-Integration-Comm-Mgmt.pdf

In the article Techniques for Measuring Public Relations Effectiveness, Strenski (1982) discusses how the communication audit is a good technique to use for public relations. “It assesses personal communications, written communications, audio/visual and published communication material by audiences and message content” (1982). Its measurement benefits are useful because of how communication dollars are being used to reach the audiences. It also helps when looking at the future communication effectiveness of a company (1982). The communication audit can tell you where a company's weak spot is and what they are missing in order to fix its effectiveness. It also plays a role in what messages to put out and what audience is going to respond to them.

The communication audit can be used in both profit and non-profit institutions. Depending on the company, the audit has to be made to fit the company's wants and needs. When it comes to public corporation, it is most useful for stockholders, the financial community, and business and financial editors toward management, etc. (1982). Nonprofit institutions use them for intradepartmental communications effectiveness among other topics of communication within the company.[3]

With management being one of the many aspects getting audited, the relationships internally and externally through the company are also evaluated. There is an overall diagnosis of the level of trust between the participants of information exchange within the organization and it is also identifying the general quality of professional relations within the organization (Winkler, 2018).[4] Those who complete the audit themselves have a lot of power on developing a plan for the organization and properly diagnosing what could potentially be wrong. Deborah Jones writes in The Interpretive Auditor, "The language of the audit lends greater legitimacy to communication practitioners. Here, the auditor’s expertise lies in the ability to “compute” the chances of organizational health and thus to forecast and plan for the future.” (2002)

Renata Winkler states, “An efficient and effective communication process contributes to the direct involvement of people in the organization in achieving its objectives, raises the effectiveness of the management system and enables the improvement of operation of the whole organization.”(2018) Objectives are investigated to see which have the largest following, and which objectives are being taken negatively or not at all. Then the language and messages of these objectives can be broken down to what is successful and flawed in the flow of communication.[4]

Typically, an audit evaluates an organization's external or internal communication effectiveness. Enormous strides have been achieved with audits in the internal dynamics of organizations in recent years.[5] The purpose of internal communication audit[6] is to uncover the strengths and weaknesses between management and employees, customers and other groups such as investors, news media, and regulators and legislative bodies with the objective to improve future communications by developing a strategic plan, through a series of recommendations, and to determine where gaps exist which need to be bridged.[7]

There is a dynamic tension in the consulting firms regarding the more pragmatic "public relations" side of audits and the more theoretical academic practices of organizational communication which is typically based in the human resource function. Though the emphasis here is on corporations, many non-profits have benefitted from audits. The United Methodist Church has used auditing techniques effectively in the non-profit sector.[8] In addition, other non-profits have shown how audits can improve communications effectiveness.[9]

A communications audit may be undertaken by a corporate communications team or by outside consultants who are retained to assess the company's communications effectiveness in accordance with the business objectives, compare the company vs. competitors, and identify target audience perceptions and motivators. The resulting strategic positioning and corresponding communications plan is focused on achieving strategic communications objectives – whether they be to achieve brand recognition, modify perceptions, maximize sales, encourage community support or establish leadership. A communications audit can encompass an organization's video strategy, brand journalism page, social media or executive communications, but usually does not extend to search-engine optimization (SEO) or other fields traditionally associated with the marketing function.[10] If an outside auditor is retained, the auditor may include an evaluation of the corporate communications staff and the activities of the corporate communications department with recommendations to management designed to streamline departmental communications and inter-company communications effectiveness.

Social media audit[edit]

Social Media Marketing Strategy.jpg

A social media audit, mostly used by public relation teams, evaluates and optimizes the use of a business or company's social media accounts. By conducting an audit, the company is able to gain awareness of their online presence, marketing techniques and strategies to ultimately keep all of their social media accounts aligned with company goals. The questions the audit asks will determine the relationship between the company and its web audiences.[11]

Companies may find it helpful to conduct a social media audit because it can serve as a reflection on the content they've posted. They can also complete a competitor audit to see how they stand next to their competitors.[12]

A social media audit is a valuable tool that can be performed to evaluate an individual or company's presence across social media platforms.[13] Several questions can be answered including customer interactions with the content, public perception of the company, how current marketing practices are affecting current goals and objectives, and better ways to make marketing techniques more effective to name a few.[14]

Social media audits, has the possibility to have both qualitative and quantitative data depending on the form of analysis that is conducted. This data is accumulated by a measure of analysis that gives values to the different interactions online,[15] thus giving data that can be transformed into information that can be used to inform whoever commissioned the audit. The information can come from a single or group of social media sites that are being used to obtain a wide scope of data.

To create a Social Media Audit there are 9 steps for one to follow:

  1. The first step is creating a document for an audit, there can either be a template or one can be made by hand. A good example for an audit document would be a spreadsheet like Excel. For each social media account that you are accounting for there should be columns for a profile (for example, Instagram/Twitter), a social handle, the person or organization that the account is run by, like an owner. There should also be an area for the mission statement for the account, the top three most engaged posts, and lastly any notes about the account.
  2. The second step is tracking down all social media accounts that are being looked at. Start by listing all of the accounts that are being used regularly. Also, start to identify networks that don't yet have a social presence. This is important so they can start thinking about whether you should create profiles to reserve handles for the future.
  3. The third step is to make sure each account is complete and on brand. Take the time to look at each one thoroughly to make sure it is consistent with your current brand image and standards. Things that should be looked at are profile and cover images, profile/bio text, handle, links and pinned posts. All these aspects are to make an account look better and more appealing to the consumer looking at the account.
  4. The fourth step is to identify the best posts. For each social account that is being documented, pick three of the best posts that had the most engagement. Look for certain patterns in these posts, like what made them had the most engagement or what content was in it that people liked to see the most. Record any thoughts and findings that you might of found in the spreadsheet for later information. To try and get more engagement, tracking likes and comments on each post will be helpful.
  5. The fifth step is to evaluate the performance of the picked accounts. This step uses analytics to conduct this research. The big part is a mission statement in which these accounts should show. A mission statement should help the account identify the key metrics to evaluate for each social channel. This will show the most important aspects of each account in which shows how much the company can be involved in each post as well. Make notes on what mission statements are more effective versus others.
  6. The sixth step is understanding the audience for each network. When evaluating each social account look for what helps support their brand, it’ i important to understand who is reached through each channel. Looking at audience demographics is an important aspect when looking at different account channels. Looking at different demographics from each social media platform can help get a better understand on posts and accounts. Incorporate findings about who is being reached with each network into the mission statement, in a separate column, or notes later recorded.
  7. The seventh step is deciding which channels are right for the company. After looking at all the previous information all of it can be used on focusing on the social media marketing efforts. Looking at how each channel is currently performing, along with who can be reached through each platform also look for ways on how to tie each social account back to the social media marketing strategy. These decisions and findings are not set in stone, but more of a brainstorm on how to go forward in creating better and more content on each accounts.
  8. The eighth step is to centralize channel ownership and passwords. Many company accounts are run by multiple people. This can be from their social media department or their marketing department. A good source to find is who is running the account whether only one person has access or more than one have the passwords. Indicate the account owners, and whether they have set each account up using a tool to control passwords. Work towards having all accounts set up with centralized password control by the time the next social audit comes around.
  9. The ninth and final step is repeating. Just like social media, social media auditing changes every day. With the changing society, these accounts can fluctuate and change from day to day. In order to stay up to date with the social media strategies with the changing aspect of social media. https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-audit-template/#what

Social Media Audit- is a series of steps taken to evaluate and optimize a business's social media profiles and strategies.[16] An in-depth social audit report will not only identify the target audience, but also tells about the behaviors of the audience including their consumption and engaging in a company. Social media audits should include five different categories; Coverage of Volume (number of times brand is mentioned in media), Converge Sentiment (positive or negative converge),  Share of Voice vs Competition (how the brand stacks up against the competitors), Executing the Message (how recognizable company leaders are) and Executive messaging (how the messages are conveyed to the public). Social media audits help provide useful information to media outlets by defining target audiences, visibility of the company and the control of messages to the public.[17]


  1. "NIRI - Home".
  2. "PRSA | Public Relations Society of America".
  3. Strenski, James (1982). "Techniques for Measuring Public Relations Effectiveness". Public Relations Quarterly.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Winkler, Renata (2018). "Communication Audit & Knowledge Management Audit as Kinds of Internal Audits in the Management of Intangible Assets of an Organization". Management Sciences. 23 (2): 41–47. doi:10.15611/ms.2018.2.05. Retrieved 2019-12-22.
  5. http://cippto.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Tourish-Hargie-2017.pdf
  6. "5 Key Questions for Your Internal Communication Audit". 2019-01-09.
  7. Hall, Brenda. "Communications Audit: How Can It Help You?", "The Side Road". Retrieved on 2010-09-28.
  8. "Communications audit overview".
  9. "NSPRA Communication Audits | National School Public Relations Association".
  10. Ragan, Mark. "Ragan Consulting Group" Retrieved on 2019-04-23.
  11. "What is a social media audit? Optimize your social media for ecommerce success". BigCommerce. Retrieved 2019-10-17.
  12. "How to Perform a Lightning-Fast Social Media Audit in 2019". Social Report. Retrieved 2019-10-17.
  13. "What is a social media audit? Optimize your social media for ecommerce success". BigCommerce. Retrieved 2019-10-17.
  14. by (2017-04-20). "How to Conduct a Social Media Audit". Social Media Marketing | Social Media Examiner. Retrieved 2019-10-17.
  15. "12 Steps for Conducting a Successful Social Media Audit". Search Engine Journal. 2018-08-16. Retrieved 2019-10-17.
  16. "What is a social media audit? Optimize your social media for ecommerce success". BigCommerce. Retrieved 2019-10-17.
  17. Jones, Kristin. "A Dozen Items Every Media Audit Should Include". www.jonespr.net. Retrieved 2019-10-17.

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